Every year during the austral summer (when it’s winter in North America), satellite imagery reveals a wide belt of unusually reflective seawater encircling Antarctica. This bright, patchy halo is known as the Great Calcite Belt and covers 16 percent of the entire global ocean.
Eos reports that new research shows how dense algae populations in the GCB lead to the halo look and could cause carbon dioxide release from the ocean into the atmosphere, thus influencing the global carbon cycle.
Caption: The Great Calcite Belt appears as a bright ring around Antarctica as a result of dense algae populations. (Photo Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)